The HR guide to 10 impactful wellbeing ideas in 2022

A quick summary:

From retaining the best employees to incentivising for future talent, wellbeing initiatives have become the competitive edge many companies will utilise for success in 2022 and beyond.

HR departments throughout the UK have begun to realise the reality that employee wellbeing has on reducing staff turnover. In recent years, employee wellbeing, or at least the demand for it, has gone from ‘nice-to-have’ to necessity if businesses want to succeed in the future. 

According to research by the CIPD on health and wellbeing at work in 2021, 50% of companies have a formal wellbeing strategy, up from 44% in 2020. In addition to this, 75% of respondents to the CIPD’s survey believe senior leaders had employee wellbeing high on their agenda in 2021, which is up from 61% the year before.

It’s no secret that wellbeing initiatives are here to stay, and businesses who are neglecting the power of wellbeing in the workplace are slowly being left behind. 

However, for many leaders and HR departments, it’s simply the case of not knowing where to start or what to do when it comes to improving employee wellbeing - and that is exactly why we’re here to help.

Through our own research, we’ve compiled our top 10 picks for staff wellbeing ideas to offer the workplace of 2022. We advise HR managers, business leaders and decision makers to take our list and run with it. Be creative, use our suggestions as simply that, suggestions. 

After all, only those who have the power to make changes to their employees' wellbeing, know exactly what their employees need when it comes to a better work-life balance. 


#1 Flexible working hours

Everyone is different, some of us are early birds and others are night owls; some hit the gym to wake up and others do their best work in the calmness of the morning. While we can’t add more time to our days, how we choose to operate and manage those hours makes all the difference to our productivity and workplace performance. 

Offering flexible working hours encourages employees to lead the lifestyles they want. It eliminates the restrictions many employees fear when it comes to a happy work-life balance and can make all the difference to employee wellbeing. 

An example of implementing flexible working hours is to allow employees to arrive at work between 8AM & 10AM and finish between 4PM & 6PM. In most cases, those couple of hours difference in start and finish times do not impact business activities and many employees are appreciative of the flexibility their work patterns offer - even if they choose to work the set hours, the option is always there for them. 

Still not convinced? According to this report, 89% of companies report better retention rates because of their flexible work options! 

#2 Team-wide fitness challenges

Whether it’s to motivate employees or just create healthy competition, team wide fitness challenges are a great wellbeing idea and need to be designed with the workforce and their physical health in mind.

Not only is this an affordable option for a workplace wellbeing initiative, but everyone in the team can get involved. Fitness challenges are all about being creative, and understanding the kind of physical activities your team would enjoy.

This could be anything from a running club to see who can clock up the most miles per month, to a weekly swimming competition or for a specific exercise such as sit-ups, push-ups etc. 

Another great example of fitness challenges which eliminate the competitive element and motivate everyone to work towards the same goal is setting step challenges or joining a charity fitness challenge. 

For example, Diabetes UK hosts an annual step challenge in which individuals and groups can all work together towards a step count with the biggest goal being 1.7M steps.


#3 Remote and hybrid working arrangements

Much like flexible working hours, remote and hybrid working arrangements are a great wellbeing idea and increase loyalty amongst employees and senior leaders. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, thousands of companies have moved to a remote working model, and in doing so, realised the true potential it offers. Not only can businesses cut overhead costs involved with office space, employees are happier, healthier and studies have shown that they are just as, if not more productive.

The pandemic has brought with it a huge shift in working arrangements, and now small companies and large industry leaders are redefining what the ‘work environment’ really means to its employees in 2022. Employers who don’t move with the times are subject to missing out on attracting new talent and retaining their best employees in the near-future.

According to statistics from Finder.com, two different surveys both found that around two thirds of respondents say they’re more productive when working from home.


#4 Subsidised employee development courses 

Subsidising career development courses for employees is a great wellbeing idea for two reasons. Not only can upskilling contribute to wider career goals for an employee, they can carry out new duties that would have required a senior team member to complete - freeing up time for senior leaders to focus on more urgent tasks. 

In addition to this, providing a platform for employees to grow shows just how much senior leaders value their team and want them to continue to thrive within the business.

One of the most common reasons employees leave is due to a combination of lacking growth, seeking new challenges and feeling undervalued in the workplace. For senior management teams, offering this wellbeing idea is a win-win opportunity, if a business is to grow and prosper.

#5: Four day working weeks

In recent years, four day working week trials have seen success in both New Zealand and Iceland. Scotland are now set to follow suit and put it to the test. The findings reveal that many employees are less stressed and there’s a lower risk of burnout. The additional freedom from less hours and no salary sacrifice has seen a lot of workers in Iceland able to spend more time on things like hobbies, and with family.  

It may seem like we are far away from a four day working week, but with many employers now switching up their working arrangements and adopting different flexible schedules, it’s a matter of time before these trials turn into retention initiatives. 

One way in which senior business leaders can adopt four day working weeks is by allowing employees to take a day off of their choosing on a rota-basis, to avoid full closure of business throughout the week. 

#6: Weekly team building activities - even for remote teams

Social activities such as drinks after work are great for building relationships with colleagues. However, finding time outside of working hours can often be difficult for everyone, especially with the different commitments and responsibilities life throws at you. So, in addition to regular after work activities and social lunches, senior team leaders should make an effort to introduce weekly team building activities. 

By offering a range of team building activities, it provides scope to be inclusive, as after work drinks can often feel exclusionary due to things like faith and family commitments.

Not only are these beneficial for building relationships, they highlight the different teamwork qualities of everyone and help establish new and improved ways of working together. On top of this, weekly team building activities can be fun and exciting, providing employees with time away from their busy schedules. 

Escape rooms are great team building activities, as they require communication, problem-solving and collaboration. Another idea is to host a scavenger hunt, this requires critical thinking, decision-making and teamwork from employees.

As for remote employees, team building activities are even more crucial. That’s because the social benefits of working with one another in an office environment are missing. Ideas for remote teams include virtual murder mystery, virtual workshops or simply making up your own games during video calls and using tools like Slack to keep a scoreboard. 

After all, team building activities are all about teamwork, communication and collaboration, and according to this teamstage.io report, effective communication within teams generates 4.5 times higher talent retention. 


#7 Financial wellbeing programs

It’s true, money doesn’t buy happiness, but stable financial wellbeing does play an important role in reducing stress and living a happier life. For millions of employees, financial stress in their daily lives is responsible for poor workplace performance and productivity.

Unfortunately, key personal financial skills such as budgeting and saving don’t come naturally to some, and they often find themselves in difficult circumstances. That’s why financial wellbeing programs, such as eLearning or workshops to educate employees, are great staff wellbeing ideas. 

By helping employees with financial wellbeing, business leaders can show that they truly care about the overall happiness of its workforce and help reduce financial stress and anxiety at the same time. 

As a wellbeing idea, this helps employers stand out from others, especially considering 55% of employees (according to this Close Brothers report) say that their current employers offer nothing to improve employee financial wellbeing. 

The report also explains how 77% of employees believe money worries affect them at work - demonstrating how powerful this wellbeing initiative can be for support employees.

#8 Themed wellness days and wellbeing challenges

Unsurprisingly, wellbeing can help people thrive in the workplace. This is because when overall job satisfaction improves, so does performance and productivity output. Not only this, employees are 89% more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work if it takes employee wellbeing initiatives seriously - that kind of impact could determine the high-quality talent employers are able to attract in the future. 

With this in mind, themed wellness days and challenges are great for staff wellbeing ideas. One prime example is the popular ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’. By committing to a particular day of the week for wellbeing, it reinforces its importance to team members. It allows busy schedules to be interrupted for something that should be on every employee's to-do-list, i.e mental and physical health.

At Heka, we have Wellbeing Wednesdays set in our calendar to ensure team members allocate time to focus on themselves. 

Wellbeing Wednesday ideas can be as simple as encouraging employees to focus on meditation, exercising and other activities that contribute to health and happiness. 

As for wellbeing challenges, Wellbeing Wednesday can take the form of challenging team members to exercise for 30 minutes a day, clocking up 10,000 steps or by completing a meditation session.

#9 Creating an open work environment

If you work in a creative business, this wellbeing idea is a must. Mundane work environments can damage creativity, and a change of scenery is often needed for people to work at their best. That’s why, if unused office space is available, senior leaders must take advantage of this. 

That’s not to say that it should be somewhere for staff to continue working. Creating a relaxing retreat for employees is another idea, i.e a place in which they can breathe and collect themselves. 

In many cases, first aid rooms can be a good candidate for reinventing office space. Whether it’s to support female health by providing women with privacy or potentially just a recreational room for after work fun, the opportunities are endless. 

When you consider that more than 79% of UK workers have experienced some degree of burnout, it proves just how important the work environment is for employees. 


#10 Encourage holidays and personal wellbeing

The final of these staff wellbeing ideas is encouraging people to take time away from work. In fact, employees who are well rested and avoid burnout are much happier and likely to perform more effectively. This wellbeing idea isn’t always the most popular however, as many businesses push their staff to be available at all times of the year - but in reality, this just isn’t healthy for employees or the company, with burnout causing presenteeism/absenteeism. 

In addition to encouraging staff to take holiday, senior leaders should actively promote personal wellbeing. Because sometimes, the best solutions are the simplest acts. By letting team members know it’s okay to talk openly about mental and physical health, or suggesting different wellbeing ideas such as taking a walk or getting involved in a yoga class, business leaders can create happier, healthier employees. 

According to this Glassdoor research from 2020, 2 in 5 employees only take up to half of their annual leave. As you can imagine, many businesses are suffering employee burnout, and lacking performance, simply because holidays and wellbeing haven't been prioritised or encouraged.

1,000s more wellbeing opportunities with Heka

These top ten staff wellbeing ideas barely scratch the surface of what’s possible when it comes to a strong employee wellbeing programme in 2022. However, they are some of the most popular among employers today for building a healthier, happier team in 2022.

At Heka, Our mission is to make employee health, fitness and wellbeing accessible to employers across the UK. We understand just how detrimental a toxic workplace culture and environment can be on employee productivity and performance and look to fix this issue with our platform of leading wellbeing partners. 

In fact, the Heka employee benefits platform offers more than a thousand experiences both virtually and in-person, all designed to make employees healthier and happier.

Why not take a look around and meet Heka or book a demo with one of our team members who will identify exactly how Heka can benefit your team.

Download our Wellbeing Trends Report

Still lost for employee wellbeing ideas? Look no further than our Wellbeing Trends Report 2022, loaded with 39-pages on insights into the wellbeing landscape of 2022. We've made it easy to understand a range of subjects such as financial wellbeing, community building, breathwork training, hypnotherapy apps, female health and many more.

Our report is designed for everyone to gain a better understanding and take control of their health and wellbeing this year. Hopefully with our Wellbeing Trends report, you can also transform your employees into healthier, happier teams.